The notoriously expensive textbook purchasing process just got a little cheaper, thanks to a new program at local bookstores.

The new service, offered at Ulrich’s Bookstore and Michigan Book and Supply, allows students to rent textbooks at store locations and save up to 57 percent off the regular price of textbooks.

Sue Riedman — vice president of marketing and corporate communications for the Nebraska Book Company, the parent company for both Ulrich’s and Michigan Book and Supply — said the company started the program in response to student requests. The program is also a response to the prevalence of websites like Chegg.com, which gives students the ability to rent books online.

“We wanted to come up with a solution that would help make textbooks more affordable and really honor what students were wanting,” Riedman said. “We thought a textbook rental program was a good solution.”

Students who want to participate pay a rental fee and sign a contract that requires them to return the book by the last Friday during finals. Students must also provide a credit card, which would be charged for the price of the book plus a 10-percent processing fee in case the rented book isn’t returned.

Riedman said she hopes the program will help the bookstores effectively compete with Chegg.

“We’ve started to see more competition in that area,” she said. “We knew that rentals were an area that we needed to explore as well.”

While the rental program is new this semester, Riedman said “it’s been hugely successful.”

Riedman said the Nebraska Book Company is committed to continuing the program in upcoming semesters.

“I think in the future what’s important is to give students a choice so that if they want to buy the textbook new or used they can, or if they want to rent they can,” Riedman said.

Student opinions on the new program are largely positive, though it remains to be seen if the program will catch on and compete with the various other options, including online retailers, traditional methods of purchasing books and buying from friends.

Engineering freshman Matt DiTullio said he didn’t know whether students would begin renting books more often than buying them.

“I think that students who buy from a bookstore will use books, but I think that a lot of students prefer buying books cheaper from friends,” he said.

Though DiTullio didn’t buy any books from Ulrich’s this semester, he said he would be willing to give the new program a try.

LSA sophomore Ben Sackett said he wouldn’t rent books because he doesn’t think it would save him any money.

“Generally, I found that it’s not really that much of a better deal,” Sackett said.

While he said he wouldn’t use the program, he thought it would catch on with a majority of students.

Engineering sophomore Malcolm Hegeman is aware of the new program, but said he will most likely only rent books for classes that don’t pertain to his major.

“If it’s a class that isn’t really important to me or to my field of study or major, then I would be more likely to rent a textbook,” he said.

Hegeman added that he thought the new service will be competitive with websites like Chegg.com.

“I could see the program here on campus being just as successful,” he said.

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